City of Refuge

Cover art for City of Refuge by Jessica Perlstein

Cover art for City of Refuge by Jessica Perlstein

Every city needs three things: a plaza, a hearth, and a sacred tree…
In the violent, desperate world of 2048, eco-catastrophes and societal breakdown have left the country splintered. Yet amidst the ruins stands a green and flourishing city where four things are sacred—Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. When the ruthless Stewards of the Southlands invade, the people of Califia defeat them using nonviolence and magic. But they’ll be back, unless the northerners can liberate the Southlands first.

Healer Madrone struggles to repair the wounds of war and deprivation. Soldier/defector River leads an Army of Liberation to the south. Bird, musician turned guerrilla, longs to return to the fight, but now he’s pledged to deeper powers. How can they build a new world when people are so deeply wounded by the old?

Madrone has a dream…


The journey that began five years ago has reached another milestone.  City of Refuge has been printed, uploaded, and mailed out to our Kickstarter supporters.  On January 4, it became available as a Kindle edition on Amazon, here.  And people have been posting such sweet reviews!  You can read some excerpts below.  Thank you, everyone!

We’re going to distribute City of Refuge through Ingram, which will make it available as a print-on-demand physical book to sites throughout the web and to bookstores.  We’re just waiting for them to process the upload and for the sites to update their lists of available books.

The great advantage of Ingram is that bookstores can order it, just as they would any other book.  And, for folks in Australia, Europe and elsewhere, they print in many countries so hopefully we can lower those horrifically high mailing costs!

I’ll be posting updates here and on my Schedule page for upcoming events, interviews and reviews!

Thanks to everyone who supported our Kickstarter campaign and made City of Refuge the second-highest funded fiction project ever on Kickstarter!

Praise for City of Refuge:

I can’t imagine who else but Starhawk could have written this novel, City of Refuge (sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing). Who else could combine such a fabulous story, and such great characters, with an unswerving commitment to equality, shared leadership, and nonviolent revolution? Sensual and erotic, meticulously detailed, intellectually satisfying—and also action packed, intense, and incredibly touching all at once. In a word—visionary. It’s a bold and imaginative book, inspiring and hopeful, and yet somehow believable. Starhawk has written the story we have been waiting for, absolutely a must-read.

              -Vicki Noble, co-creator of Motherpeace, author of Shakti Woman and The Double Goddess

Change is coming. Scientists offer statistics, politicians offer promises. But what will the changes, and the choices that are before us, mean? In City of Refuge, Starhawk demonstrates that the novelist makes the human impact of change real in a way that no report or speeches can. In this sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing, she continues her saga of the conflict created by opposing values through the lives of the vividly portrayed characters who struggle to build a new world in all its complexity. Even in an egalitarian ecotopia people have issues, and even those brainwashed by the dystopian enemies of the City can heal. City of Refuge is a worthy addition to an emerging sub-genre of post-cataclysmic survival that includes The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and Star’s Reach by John Michael Greer, offering inspiration to respond to change by creating a new harmony.

              -Diana L. Paxson, author of the Chronicles of Westria


From Amazon reviews:

City of Refuge is not just a wonderful piece of fiction and the sequel to a great book, it offers the reader opportunities to explore different perspectives on how to accomplish complex challenging goals of liberation in a world where there are destructive, greedy cruel-intentioned people in power.”

“Highest recommendation for this grand, inspirational adventure which could make a big positive impact on the future of the world. Top of my criteria is that a read releases emotions and opens my heart. Many fine books make me cry once, at the climax, but City of Refuge is multi-orgasmic. The 1st 2 chapters brought healing tears to my cheeks 3 times already, whether in empathy with characters or tears of joy.”

“An evocative, descriptive, thrilling look at an alternate future – let’s not call it a dystopian novel since it allows so much more room for hope than most of that genre…City of Refuge is a novel for anyone concerned about our future, hopeful for the promise of community solutions to climate change and ready to be inspired by a visionary look at what is possible. Not just theoretically possible but actually possible, especially with solutions like permaculture, water reuse, alternate forms of energy and different methods of sharing power and responsibility.  This book is a GREAT read!”

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